What Is A Community School?

Community is a vital part of everyday life and is something that we all want and need to be part of. Being part of a community helps to provide us with support, improves knowledge, and gives a sense of belonging. This idea of community is just as important when it comes to education, and community schools are providing young students with a unique way of learning. What is a Community School? A community school is a partnership between a school and an array of resources within the local community. It focuses on integrating academics alongside health, social services, and youth development. By working with other institutions within the local area, it helps to significantly improve how students learn, creates stronger family bonds, and builds a healthier community. A community school focuses on creating a more personalized approach to the curriculum, utilizing real-world learning to improve student learning. A community school is the hub of the local area, open to families, […]

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What Are The Benefits of Place-Based Learning?

Currently, 40-60% of students in the U.S. are chronically disengaged from school. The top reason students say they disconnect and dropout of high school is because school is not relevant to their lives and future careers. Research shows that connecting school and student learning with their local communities can increase student engagement. Not surprisingly, 95% of teenagers agree that more place-based learning opportunities would improve school. What Does Place-Based Learning Look Like? Place-based education is often called real-world learning or community-based learning. As the name implies, it promotes deep learning that uses one’s local location as an educational resource.  So, imagine that you took your child to the park and taught them all about the trees, wildlife, and landmarks. That’s a prime example of using “place” as a way to gain knowledge.  This foundation for learning is student-centric and emphasizes the importance of community to teach virtually any discipline.  The Powerful Benefits of Place-Based Learning This is not an extensive […]

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How To Be a Great Guest Speaker At School

Stage fright is a real thing. For some people, being a guest speaker at a school is a terrifying thought. All eyes are on you, and hundreds of faces are waiting to either label you as a great speaker or a dud. Being a great guest speaker, particularly at schools, takes a lot of practice and understanding of your audience. When we say schools, we mean K-12 grade students. So, young minds that are developing and open to new information.  Imagine if you gave just a simple 30-minute speech to a group of elementary kids, and it left a lasting impact on a young mind. You might not know what type of impression you’re making in the moment, but that child will feel the full effect of your words.  Tips for Being a Great Guest Speaker for Schools Here are five tips to aid your journey as a guest speaker at schools that cater to K-12 students. Get ready to […]

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Do You Remember Career Day In School?

When you were a kid how did you learn about the different careers in your community? Did you have a career-day in your classroom or an event at your school? Whether you experienced career day or not, do you want your children to know about the different local opportunities where you work and live? Well, it’s a lot of work to organizing a classroom, school, or district-wide event. The planning, outreach, vetting, and management takes a lot of time – something teachers and staff wish they had more of! In addition to a shortage of time and organizational resources, in Maine, workforce development is a central issue, and many businesses struggle to find enough workers to keep growing. Whether it’s tech or the trades these good paying jobs need to be filled with qualified workers to build a strong economy. There are a few great organizations leading the charge in workforce development, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. Year […]

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What Is The Game For Students?

“School needs to be so much more like sports. In sports, there’s a game and it’s in front of audience. We run school like it is nonstop practice. You never get a game. Nobody would ever go out for the basketball team if you never had a game. What is the game for students?” Greg Jouriles, teacher, Co-creator of Trial of Human Nature Did you like practicing or playing in the games? If you’re like me, the games we’re the best part – it’s why we played in the first place! Now, imagine if there were no games – just practice – day in and day out – would you play? Think about how we’ve set up most of our schools. We’ve told our teachers they need to keep up with the curriculum, given them fewer resources, and higher test-driven expectations. We’ve made schools where all students do is practice. Practice, practice, practice! There is no game, well not exactly. […]

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Sneak Peek : Our New Platform

With the recent support from the Maine Technology Institute, we’ve been busy designing and developing our new software. If you’re interested in a behind the scenes look at our development process you’ve come to the right place! Deep Knowledge Is Key! No matter what business you’re starting, truly understanding your customer’s problem is a must. Luckily for us I’ve had the opportunity to work with AMAZING teachers in multiple classrooms and schools in Portland Public Schools for the past 5 years. And, I’ve learned a lot! How Do We Increase More Real-World Learning? At the heart of our mission is supporting school communities and teachers who want to build their curriculum around real-world learning. But, locating, verifying, connecting, and scheduling interested community members is a HUGE time commitment. So, we’ve developed our Volunteer Search page for teachers (seen below) where they can keyword search by Name, Company, Role, and Expertise, as well as filter by volunteer interest. We think it’s […]

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What Do You Want More Of?

Do you want more real-world learning? How about more expert presenters? Do you want a more engaged parent community and stronger PTO? How about more mentors and classroom grannies? Do you want more caring community members learning about the good work your students and teachers are doing? How about more engaged and happy students? The list is long and I can keep going! If you want more of any of these things in your school community – we can help! Schedule a demo of our online platform and we’ll show you how SchoolSquare can better connect your schools with the caring adults of your community.

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I Want To Be Somebody

We all wear this sign around our neck everyday. Yes, even you! And it’s our job, yours and mine, to make sure the people we care for; whether it’s the students in our classrooms, employees in our businesses, or kids in our homes, know that they are important, valuable, and special, because just like us, they want to “be somebody”. You can learn a lot by spending time in a first grade morning circle! Here’s a sentence-starter for you- give it a try with the people in your life! “I think you are special because…”

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Do You Want To Play Too?

It was a cold spring day in Orono, Maine. The forecast was grim and gray. The UMaine Baseball team had a Sunday doubleheader scheduled for the day. We had been outside for batting practice and we’re glad to be back in the warmth of the locker room. The weather forecast showed several rain systems coming our way but it still wasn’t raining hard enough to cancel the games. The locker room smelled of McDonald’s egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches, sweat, and gas; a pretty lethal combination for the average human! Everyone was wearing old grass-stained baseball pants, sweaty grey shirts, blue socks, and under-armor gear. As we warmed-up, a couple of my teammates made a “Rain Turtle” which consisted of ten small rocks shaped as a turtle which had “magic powers” in canceling games. Baseball players are a bit superstitious! I sat in my locker watching and listening to my teammates around me. Some were making plans for the potential […]

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What’s Your Highest Aspiration For Our Kids?

“So, because I love to go around and interview people, particularly in the United States, I like to ask adults, “What’s your highest aspiration for our kids?” And, interesting things happen. No one has ever said, “My fondest wish is that they will ace statewide benchmark math and science tests when they are sixteen.” I’ve never heard anyone say, “Oh, my fondest wish is that this young person will help make America more competitive in the global economy.” No, when you actually listen to people’s statements about their dreams for our kids you hear a very different language. Folks want: – kids who experience joy – kids who are connected and engaged – kids who fall in love with their life and all of life – kids with kindness and generosity – kids who are happy – kids who contribute; that my friends is the language of human thriving – and it’s the language of quality, not the language of […]

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